On Wednesday, January 4th, Linden Lab issued a “showcase” video alongside the public launch of the Sansar YouTube channel.
The launch of the channel is part of the Lab’s promise to gradually reveal more and more of the platform as they move towards opening the doors to public access. Its launch was accompanied by some in-depth media pieces in which Sansar is discussed in far more details than has until now been the case – including word on the platform’s currency, and the overall progress on the platform towards public access.
The video itself – embedded at the end of this article – was filmed by Draxtor Despres and features Loz Hyde of Meshworx fame, the video runs to just over 1 minute 30 seconds, and demonstrates the build environment of Sansar as used without a headset and controllers as Loz puts together a grand hall.
There’s actually not a lot to see in terms of the mechanics of the environment, but Loz’s view of the overall rendering (by which I assume he means the run-time environment, is “amazing”.
We do get to see the latter as well – or what appears to be the latter – when Drax takes us inside via a HTC Vive. The environment, lighting and detail certainly looks impressive, but again, may from SL are liable to be unimpressed with the detail shown, simply because it is a single interior space, and nothing is shown of it in situ as it were. Hopefully more comprehensive shots of spaces within Sansar will come in time. Certainly what is shown offers an impressive taster of what can be achieved in terms of architecture and fittings.
Elsewhere come hints of the size of the Creator Preview programme, and why content creators like Loz are being asked to showcase their work, with the Lab’s CEO noting:
We have over 12,000 creators registered for access to the platform, so we have way more creators than we need to get the feedback, and to ensure they get the tools they need to be successful. We’re really asking these early creators to explain what it is they want to do in Sansar, and if we think the platform is not yet ready to do that, we’re asking them to wait.
Of these 12,000, around 500-600 have so far been accepted into the Creator Preview, and the Lab has revealed that the Sansar currency is now in operation: the Sansar Dollar (S$), which will be traded on the SandeX – both of which, I assume – are operated under LL’s subsidiary, Tilia Inc, and are something of a port of the facilities and “currency” services the lab built around the Linden Dollar and LindeX. Like the Linden Dollar, the Sansar Dollar will be exchangeable for fiat money, and the system supports payout at least via PayPal.
What’s interesting here is that the “currency” system (the Lab will doubtless refer to Sansar Dollars as “tokens”), is that it is in operation, with the creators currently engaged in Sansar able to buy and sell their creations among themselves, with the Lab’s Director of Global communications, Peter Gray, noting:
With this new step, they’re [creators] also able to start buying and selling their creations with one another. And so, it’s the start of that sort of economic engine that’s getting warmed up in this creator preview period, and ultimately it will expand. Today they’re able to buy and sell items—pieces of content, but ultimately, creators will be able to monetize entire experience.
This actually makes a lot of sense, not only in terms of kick-starting the Sansar economy and establishing a nascent revenue model for both creators and the Lab, it also means that Creators and leverage one another’s creations to build out their experiences and – as Peter Gray notes – sell those on as well.
How much the Lab might be generating in revenue from these initial creator-creator transactions – given a “sales tax” is a core part of the revenue model – isn’t indicated (I would actually be surprised if any is at this point being leveraged – outside of a “purchase fee” for S$, simply because the Creator Preview is supposed to be a cooperative venture). However, Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat notes, there will also be a small “hosting fee,” or a property tax equivalent in the real world, for the spaces that you create in Sansar. Again, this isn’t entirely a surprise, but seeing it stated clearly is interesting.
Like the L$, the Sansar Dollar will operate on a user-to-user basis, with the Lab functioning as an exchange operator, not a bank. Currently the exchange rate is running at around S$100 per US dollar, making the S$ more expensive than the L$. However, this is only an initial exchange rate; ultimately, the Lab expects the market to define the exchange rate naturally, so the value might over time move towards something more in keeping with the L$.
One risk that comes with opening the exchange mechanism to a limited audience of users (creators) is the risk that the exchange itself could be manipulated through things like volume purchases of S$. The Lab is seemingly aware of this with CEO Ebbe Altberg noting that various caps are in place and thresholds are deliberately low at this point in time.
For those hoping to get into Sansar “soon” as a part of the opening-out to the public, the interviews accompanying the video release suggest that they might have to remain patient:
Toms Hardware: So, you’re running the private creator preview for Sansar for the next quarter or so?
Ebbe Altberg: Yeah. We’re trying to be data driven in the process as opposed to date driven. I wouldn’t say we have all kinds of luxuries and that we’re taking our sweet time, but we want to make sure that it’s incredibly great by the time any user can get access.
Again, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. As I’ve mentioned previously, building something like Sansar is a huge undertaking, one in which time frames are bound to slip. As such, we shouldn’t be holding
T articles from VentureBeat, Tom’s Hardware and UploadVR cover a lot of ground, and I highly recommend reading them all – links below. In the meantime however, and to give myself more time to digest them, I’ll leave you with the preview video.
- Linden Lab Introduces Sansar Monetization System, Reveals First Video Footage – Tom’s Hardware
- Linden Lab Wants VR Creators to Start Making Money on ‘Sansar’ – UploadVR
- Linden Lab debuts marketplace for Sansar VR world – VentureBeat / GamesBeat